Nux vomica consists of the dried, ripe seeds of Strychnos Nux-vomica, Linn. (N.O. Loganiaceae), a small tree widely distributed over India and the Malay Archipelago. It produces a fruit resembling a large orange, which contains several seeds embedded in a whitish, bitter pulp. The seeds are removed when ripe, cleansed, dried, and sorted. They are exported chiefly from Cochin, Madras, and other Indian ports. The seeds are also official in the U.S.P. They have the shape of flattened discs, from 2 to 2.5 centimetres in diameter and about 6 millimetres thick. They are densely covered with closely appressed satiny hairs, radiating from the centre of the flattened sides, which give to the seeds a characteristic sheen. The seeds are very hard, and consist of a copious, dark grey, horny endosperm, in which the small embryo is embedded. They have no odour, but a very bitter taste. A section cut parallel to the radiating hairs, exhibits the characteristic hairs and the cells of the endosperm with very thick walls; the former, which are strongly thickened and pitted at the base, are long and tubular, and bent near the base so as to lie close to the surface of the seed; the upper part of the hair bears longitudinal bar-like thickenings, which are lignified. The powdered drug is characterised by numerous fragments of the nearly transparent thick-walled cells of the endosperm, and fragments of the hairs; the latter are much disintegrated by the pulverisation, the bar-like thickenings being mostly quite separated from one another.
Constituents.—Nux vomica contains the alkaloids strychnine and brucine, together with traces of strychnicine and of a glucoside, loganin. They also contain fatty matter (about 3 per cent.), caffeotannic acid, and a trace of copper. The total alkaloid present varies from 1.8 to 5.3 per cent.; seeds of good quality usually yield from 2.5 to 3.0 per cent. Of this total alkaloid about one-half is strychnine, although this proportion appears to be subject to some variation. The Brussels Conference agreed that nux vomica should have a standard of 2.5 per cent. of total alkaloids. Caffeotannic acid was formerly called igasuric acid. The fatty matter appears to be present chiefly as a secretion on the hairs, where it is present in a larger proportion than in the other parts of the seed. The pulp of nux -vomica fruit contains about 5 per cent. of the glucoside loganin, together with the alkaloid strychnicine.
Action and Uses.—The properties of nux vomica are virtually those of the alkaloid strychnine. The powdered seeds are employed in atonic dyspepsia, in cachet form, often with bismuth or pepsin. The B.P. liquid extract of nux vomica is standardised to contain 1.5 per cent. of strychnine, and is used in the preparation of Tinctura Nucis Vomicae (0.25 per cent. of strychnine) and of Extractum Nucis Vomicae (5 per cent. of strychnine). The tincture is much employed in mixtures for its stimulant action on the gastrointestinal tract. In the mouth, it acts as a bitter, increasing the appetite. In the intestine, it stimulates peristalsis, and is often combined with laxatives, such as cascara, in chronic constipation due to atony of the bowel. Extract of nux vomica is very often used in pills, in association with purgatives and with ferruginous preparations, in anaemia. In cases of poisoning by nux vomica the antidotes described under Strychnina should be employed.
Dose.—6 to 25 centigrammes (1 to 4 grains).
- Extractum Nucis Vomicae, B.P.—EXTRACT OF NUX VOMICA.
- Liquid extract of nux vomica, 350; milk sugar, sufficient to produce 105. Remove the alcohol from the liquid extract by distillation, add the milk sugar, mix, and evaporate to a firm extract, which should weigh 105, and contain 5 per cent. of strychnine. The proportion of milk sugar required is determined by evaporating 35 mils of liquid extract of nux vomica to a moderately firm extract, weighing the residue, and multiplying the difference between the weight of the residue and 10.5 grammes by 10. On account of the presence of fat extracted from the nux vomica seeds by the alcohol used in making liquid extract of nux vomica, the solid extract cannot readily be powdered. If the fat be removed, the extract is readily reduced to powder, and may be adjusted to the standard strength by the addition of milk sugar. Extract of nux vomica is very largely prescribed in pill form, frequently with aperients. It is combined with aloes and belladonna (see Pilula Aloes et Nucis Vomicae), or cascara and belladonna (see Pilula Cascarae et Belladonnae et Nucis Vomicae), for its action in promoting peristalsis; it is also given with reduced iron, arsenic, or phosphorus, for its tonic action in anaemias. Dose.—15 to 60 milligrams (1/4 to 1 grain).
- Extractum Nucis Vomicae, B.P., 1885.—EXTRACT OF NUX VOMICA.
- Nux vomica, in fine powder, 100; rectified spirit, 400; water, 100. This preparation contains 15 per cent. of total alkaloids. Dose.—15 to 60 milligrams (1/4 to 1 grain).
- Extractum Nucis Vomicae, P.I.—EXTRACT OF NUX VOMICA, P.I.
- Strength, 16 per cent. of total alkaloids. Prepared with alcohol (70 per cent.).
- Extractum Nucis Vomicae, U.S.P.—EXTRACT OF NUX VOMICA, U.S.P.
- This preparation contains 5 per cent. of strychnine; it is prepared by exhausting nux vomica, in No. 20 powder, with acetic acid and water, and adding alcohol to the percolate, which is then allowed to settle, filtered, and evaporated to dryness, after which well-dried milk sugar is added. Average dose.—15 milligrams (1 grain).
- Extractum Nucis Vomicae Liquidum, B.P.—LIQUID EXTRACT OF NUX VOMICA.
- Nux vomica, in No. 20 powder, 100; alcohol (70 per cent.), a sufficient quantity; alcohol, a sufficient quantity. Add 50 of alcohol (70 per cent.) to the powdered drug, set aside for six hours, then pack firmly in a percolator, saturate and cover the mass with alcohol (70 per cent.), and again set aside for twenty, four hours. Allow percolation to proceed slowly, adding more alcohol (70 per cent.) as required, and reserve the first 75 of percolate. Proceed with the percolation until the drug is exhausted, press the marc, add the expressed liquid to the weak percolate, recover the alcohol by distillation, and evaporate the residue to 6.2. Mix this residue with three times its volume of alcohol (90 per cent.), add the mixture to the reserved percolate, set aside for twenty-four hours, pour off the clear liquid, filter the remainder, then standardise and adjust by the addition of alcohol (70 per cent.), so that the finished product shall contain 1.5 per cent. of strychnine. Prepared by the process described, liquid extract of nux vomica contains an inconvenient proportion of fat, so that the tincture prepared therefrom frequently deposits fatty matters in cold weather, and forms a cloudy mixture with water, fat globules separating. The presence of fat in the liquid extract may be partly avoided by evaporating the weak percolate to one-third of its bulk, cooling, and filtering through paper before continuing the evaporation. Liquid extract of nux vomica is used chiefly for the preparation of tincture and extract of nux vomica. On account of its high concentration, the liquid extract is not much prescribed for internal use, the tincture being preferred. Dose.—1/4 to 2 decimils (0.025 to 0.2 milliliters) (1 to 3 minims).
- Fluidextractum Nucis Vomicae, U.S.P.—FLUIDEXTRACT OF NUX VOMICA.
- Prepared by exhausting nux vomica, in No. 40 powder, with a mixture of alcohol, water, and acetic acid, the product being subsequently standardised to contain 1 per cent. w/v of strychnine. Average dose.—5 centimils (0.05 milliliters) (1 minim).
- Tinctura Nucis Vomicae, B.P.—TINCTURE OF NUX VOMICA.
- Liquid extract of nux vomica. 16.66; distilled water, 25; alcohol, sufficient to produce 100. Add the liquid extract to the distilled water, mix, add sufficient alcohol to make up to the required volume, and filter. The product should contain from 0.24 to 0.26 per cent, w/v of strychnine. Tincture of nux vomica is given with advantage when the action of strychnine is desired; the effect of the brucine present is probably negligible. This tincture frequently contains an inconvenient proportion of fat (see Extractum Nucis Vomicae Liquidum), so that it forms a cloudy mixture with water, fat globules separating. This may cause insoluble salts to agglomerate in indiffusible mases, and many dispensers therefore use a defatted tincture, or remove the fat by mixing the tincture with twice its bulk of water, subsequently filtering. Dose.—3 to 10 decimils (0.3 to 1.0 milliliters) (5 to 15 minims).
- Tinctura Nucis Vomicae, B.P., 1885.—TINCTURE OF NUX VOMICA, B.P., 1885.
- Extract of nux vomica, B.P., 1885, 133 grains; distilled water, 4 fluid ounces; rectified spirit, sufficient to produce 1 pint. This preparation contains 1 grain of total alkaloids in 1 fluid ounce (about half the strength of the B.P., 1898, tincture). Dose.—6 to 12 decimils (0.6 to 1.2 milliliters) (10 to 20 minims).
- Tinctura Nucis Vomicae, P.I.—TINCTURE OF NUX VOMICA, P.I.
- Strength, 0.25 per cent. of total alkaloids. Prepared by percolation with alcohol (70 per cent.).
- Tinctura Nucis Vomicae, U.S.P.—TINCTURE OF NUX VOMICA, U.S.P.
- Extract of nux vomica, U.S.P., 2; a mixture of 75 of alcohol (95 per cent.) and 25 of water, sufficient to produce 100. This preparation contains 0.1 per cent. w/v of strychnine. Average dose.—6 decimils (0.6 milliliters) (10 minims).
The British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1911, was published by direction of the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.